Flu vaccination: What you can and what not

It is a fact that influenza and the common cold are two completely different diseases – even if the symptoms sometimes resemble.

  • Causative agent of influenza are influenza viruses.
  • Colds are caused by various other viruses.

In the case of flu vaccination you get a weakened or inactivated Form of the currently most common flu virus under the skin or into the muscle. As a result, the immune system begins to form antibodies against these viruses. It is then with the active Form of this flu virus, it can detect the body and immediately fight.

The flu vaccination can, therefore, not against colds protect, but “only” in front of the real flu.

The Flu is reason enough for the flu vaccination to decide, because the flu is a serious disease: In the comparatively moderately severe Flu season 2018/2019 affected almost 40,000 people, so the flu that you are in a hospital, treatment had to.

What is the flu vaccination is a really?

The flu vaccination does not provide 100-percent protection against the flu. You can but the individual risk of contagion is significantly reduce. Thus, Vaccinated and also contribute less to the spread of the flu virus.

Those infected despite vaccination, often developed only mild or no symptoms. Vaccinated have a better chance that the flu without any serious complications or secondary diseases (such as pneumonia) occur as Unvaccinated.

More on the topic: flu vaccination

Serious complications from flu are on the whole rare, but in certain risk groups more frequently. These include:

  • Infants and small children,
  • People with certain underlying diseases (e.g. chronic respiratory diseases),
  • Pregnant women and
  • the elderly.

Overall, the annual flu vaccination to ensure that fewer cases of influenza and fewer severe complications occur. This also reduces the number of flu-related hospital stays.

How high is the protective effect?

The flu vaccination is only effective under the condition that the vaccine used and the virus types corresponds to that in the respective year in circulation are: the vaccination, the risk of infection of healthy adult is at least 60 percent lower.

In healthy children and adolescents has the flu vaccine is, overall, a protective effect of 59 to 75 percent. This means Up to three-quarters of the children who were ill without vaccination, are protected.

The Vaccination is only about two weeks after the flu vaccination fully formed. Those infected just before vaccination or in the first two weeks after vaccination with the influenza virus, so it can develop anyway.

What is the Benefit of a flu vaccination is, depends, among other things, how high is the risk of contagion in a flu season. If many of the new flu virus are in circulation and many people to the flu get sick, the Vaccination significantly more: If such a Flu epidemic, the vaccination, many people in front of a disease to protect and also to serious complications prevent.

How important this is, for example, shows the flu season 2016/2017:

  • In the Winter of 2016/2017, only 34.8 percent of seniors against influenza were vaccinated, although these disorders have an increased risk for severe flu. Since the 2008/2009 flu season was the lowest vaccination Coverage in the elderly.
  • At the same time, the number of flu-related deaths (with an estimated 22.900) reached the highest value since the Influenza season 1995/1996.

Whether a mild or severe flu season, it is hard to predict. Therefore, it is especially for people over 60, chronically sick people and Pregnant advisable, each year against flu inoculate to let. In addition, all of the vaccinated should be, to have contact with such at-risk groups.


Online information from the Federal centre for health education (BZgA): www.impfen-info.de (retrieval date: 30.10.2019)

How much protection offers a flu vaccination? Online information of the Institute for quality and efficiency in healthcare (IQWiG): www.gesundheitsinformation.de (status: 23.10.2019)

Influenza vaccination: frequently asked questions and answers. Online information of the Robert Koch-Institute: www.rki.de (status: 17.9.2019)

Report on the epidemiology of Influenza in Germany, season 2018/19. Robert-Koch-Institut (Hrsg.), Berlin 2019

Safety and efficacy of the flu vaccination. Factsheet of the Federal centre for health education (ed.), Cologne (May 2017)

For More Information

Onmeda-Reading Tips:

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Last content review: 30.10.2019last Modification: 28.01.2019

*The post “flu vaccination: What you can – and what doesn’t” published by Onmeda. Contact with the executives here.